Friday, April 3, 2009

What's a Baby Boomer Value?

That’s a challenging question, because Boomer values are as diverse as the people themselves. It’s tempting to succumb to the easy answers provided by current research, but trying to neatly categorize these iconoclasts can lead to dead ends that waste time and marketing dollars.

If the Boomers have anything in common, it’s a deep mistrust of authoritarianism. This mistrust is justified given the political and social turmoil of the 1960s, when America’s biggest cities burned, beloved leaders were gunned down, and the war in Vietnam raged on. As a result, the tranquility of the 1950s quickly gave way to a divided country that was part battleground, part cauldron of change.

The Boomers questioned the most sacred societal values, and the sentiment behind the slogan “Never trust anyone over 30” almost became “Never trust anyone.” Shaken loose from mainstream moorings, each Boomer was left to create a unique path in life. This led to a kind of individualism that’s often been mistaken for total selfishness when it’s more like a very active autonomy.

Deep-seated individualism makes Boomers hard to pin down in terms of values, and typical research is of little help. A quick google reveals that this research offers the following as Boomer values: Good health, fitness, functionality, well-being, close relationships with family and friends, altruism, kindness, compassion, self-respect, spirituality, intellectual curiosity, fun, happiness, financial security, power, recognition, excitement, balance, civility, conservatism and liberalism. Well, that really narrows it down. Imagine trying to talk one-to-one to a Boomer Consumer using that kind of research as a guiding light for your advertising and marcom.

Fact is, the best way to reach the Boomers is to consider them a “Market Segment of One.” Then you can go about the business of addressing each one of them as individuals who have unique paths that lead to their Buying Centers. It’s a little more work, but it can be quite lucrative.


Julia Anna Alison said...

Hello, Vince, this is actual question you're talking about - trust people. Keep on posting, I'll follow you. Julia A.Alison,

Angela Willis said...

Aren't those values that you googled the values of anyone in any generation? You've just about covered every value going. So what you've shown is that most people have a huge range of values, most of which are shared with most other people.
From a sceptical baby boomer who isn't too keen on generalizations

Vince Vassolo said...

Thanks for following the blog, Julia.

And, Angela, the point I was making is exactly what you recognized--most commoditized research is so general you can't count on it as a guiding light for communications or relationship building. If anything characterizes Boomers, it's summarized in your statement that you aren't "too keen on generalizations." I'm a Boomer, too, and I share that exact sentiment.

Shallie Bey said...

You have some wonderful information regarding baby boomers. As a baby boomer and one seeking to serve baby boomer entrepreneurs, I am delighted to discover your blog. I found you in a twitter search. Reading each post was like unwrapping a birthday present. I will look forward to following you.

Shallie Bey
Smarter Small Business Blog

Vince Vassolo said...

Thanks for the gracious comments, Shallie. I'm thankful that you'll be following the blog, and I hope that you continue to feel that each is like a little birthday present.